Basic Guide to Photography for Parents and Parents-to-be
As parent or parent-to-be, there exist a multitude of gifts you’ll be able to give your child to ensure that he or she grows up to be the fine young people you wish them to be. Yes, we’re talking about patience, kindness as well as the occasional toy. But, there exists yet another gift you can give that will ensure that the best parts of your child’s life remain immortalized.
Photographs help us appreciate our young lives, especially when we’re older. They remind us of the good moments, the bad and also where we come from.
Below we’ll acquaint you with a couple of essential photography tips and techniques that will help you, as proud parent, to capture all these moments that will, one day, help your child realize just how much you love him or her.
What To Expect
If you’re about to pick up your camera, just hold on, mom, dad. Take some time to think about photography in general: what is it that makes a good picture? Is it great technical ability? Perhaps the intuition needed to recognize a great shot when it presents itself. Or, maybe both?
In our opinion, photography is about a combination of technical skill and composition. You’ll have to learn to use your camera to its fullest extent while, at the same time, know which elements present in the frame will and won’t work.
We’ll give you a bit of advice on both to best prepare you for your photographic journey to come.
Remember mom, dad: photography is all about light. And if you learn to manipulate the light entering though your camera’s lens, then you’ll be able to weave photographic magic! So let’s look at a couple of basic concepts.
A Little More About Light…
To best understand the motivation behind the fact that some types of light are good, in terms of photography, while others are less so, we have to understand what is meant by the ‘dynamic range’ of a camera.
The dynamic range refers to the differences in light or tone that can be accommodated before some aspects of the image in front of us loses detail. Our eyes have a dynamic range of about 2000:1, while the average camera only has a dynamic range of about 8:1. What this means in terms of lighting is that, when ‘wrong’ types of light are used to illuminate the subject of our photography, it will cast deep shadows that will appear black on film, even though we can make out the detail with the naked eye.
In practical terms, this means that, if you are planning on a bit of outdoor photography, you’ll do well to take your pictures either early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Cloudy days are also suitable and will provide you with the necessary soft light to bring out your child’s beautiful skin tone.
The Exposure Triangle
Your camera will provide you with a host of settings that will allow you to manipulate light as it enters through the lens. The most prominent among these represent the elements of the ‘Exposure Triangle’ and include ISO, aperture and shutter speed. Let’s take a brief look at each of these separately.
At this stage we’d like to encourage parents of all very young babies to switch off the flash. Not only will the sudden bright bursts of light startle your child, but it can also be potentially damaging to his or her developing vision.
However, that doesn’t mean you should put your camera down. On the contrary, learn to use the ISO setting of your camera efficiently.
ISO is a term that is used rather loosely and refers to the film speed standard for color-negative film as maintained by the International Standards Organization. Those parents who would like a bit more information can search for ISO 5000:1987 (though be warned: you’ll be greeted with a lot of technical information).
Now while most cameras nowadays don’t use film any more, the standards still apply and is more commonly referred to as the camera’s sensitivity to light.
If you are intent on taking a picture of your baby in a low-light environment, then you’ll want to ensure that you are using a high ISO number, like 800. In a bright environment, the reverse is true: a low ISO number will suffice. Acquaint yourself with this feature of your camera by experimenting.
The aperture of your camera is defined as the amount of light that gets admitted onto the sensor and works very much like the pupil of the human eye. We measure the diameter of the aperture in f-stop and indicate it as follows: Fn, F:n or F-n, where n is the aperture size. The higher the f-stop the smaller the aperture.
The last element of the ‘Exposure Triangle’ refers to shutter speed, which is measured in fractions of a second and seconds. As the name implies, this function determines how fast the shutter opens and closes.
Shutter speeds between 1/60 (a sixtieth of a second) and 1/000 (a thousandth of a second) and faster will allow you to hold the camera in your hand. Shutter speeds of 1/30 (one thirtieth of a second) and slower will require the use of a tripod to avoid camera shake. However, take note: certain shutter speeds can last second, minutes or even longer and will capture more light as well as movement (that’s the cool trailing effect visible on photographs of highways).
In terms of composition, there are a lot of things that can be said and a lot of rules to be expelled. But in the end, good photographic composition is a skill mastered only by practice, practice and then some more, practice.
All we’ll be able to do is to give you a couple of pointers of things to look out for that will help you recognize certain elements that will help you on the journey to photographic excellence.
Texture & Lines
Take a look around you. What do you see? All physical objects have a texture, and they have lines, too.
The edges of said objects, if not the patterns on them, will fill each photograph you take with a variety of shapes. To excel in your photographic journey, you’ll have to train yourself to pay attention to these lines, shapes and textures. Have a look at your child (if he or she has already been born) and carefully study them for the aforementioned characteristics.
When its time for another photography spell, try to employ the following guidelines:
- – Converging lines will supply your picture with a sense of depth and distance
- – Curved lines or swirls will convey a sense of calm
- – Slanting lines, on the other hand, can imply direction or action
That being said, we’d also like you to pay attention to the various colors that fill the frame of your camera. Photography 101 states that colors that belong to the same tonal range will make for a better photograph than those that seem out of odds with one another.
An Interesting Angle
Last but not least in our mini parent photography course is something present in all brilliant photographs: a good angle. Whether you take a picture over your baby’s shoulder to show what he or she was looking at the time, or whether you find it fitting to show them in a special type of light or way, it’s often the unique angle that draws us to a picture.
Remember: all photographs should tell a story that’s what sets them apart from mere pictures.
About The Author: Betty A. Muscott is an accomplished child photographer who provides tips on how to photograph children outdoors to create beautiful images and some personalized photo gift hints. She provides a review of a great Canon starter digital camera, ideas on how to create amazing babies photos onto canvas and personalized photo gift ideas..
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